Friday, November 23, 2007

There?s no place like home

Lynsey Dyer defines life through skiing

Express Staff Writer

Lynsey Dyer grew up skiing in Sun Valley and is now one of the top female freestyle extreme skiers. Courtesy photo

Valley native Lynsey Dyer has spent most of her life skiing. Growing up in the Wood River Valley with a father who was a coach for the Sun Valley Ski Team, it was only natural for Dyer to be a skier.

"I started skiing because all the kids were on the D team," Dyer said. "In the beginning it was the most fun ever. On the weekends you got to ride the chairlifts with your friends and eat candy."

The memories of learning to ski from the Kindercup races and sharing fun times on the mountain have always lasted with Dyer, even today, as she is one of the nation's most accomplished female extreme freestyle skiers.

"If you wanted to stay with it, you had to do gates, and that's when it fell off and became more serious and competitive," Dyer said.

Skiing was all about fun for Dyer, but in order to ski, Dyer had to ski race. Competition was not why Dyer wanted to ski, but she continued to ski, listened to coaches and eventually began to race well.

Lynsey Dyer drives through some Rocky Mountain powder.

"At 16 I won the Junior Olympics in Jackson Hole, Wyoming," Dyer said. "It was funny because it was a whole week, and it was over my birthday. I forgot my birthday, which has happened twice."

Dyer continued to race through college at Montana State University, which was a means to an end for her. Racing helped her pay for school, and she enjoyed being on a team. For Dyer, going to college meant that there was no real chance to make the U.S. Ski Team. Rather than stress out over missed opportunities, Dyer spent a year abroad in Italy at an art school and discovered how doing well at skiing was not only her identity, but also it had taken hold of her confidence.

"If I didn't do well I thought people would not talk to me," Dyer said. "The pressure was way too much."

Dyer liked the fact that she was studying in Italy and not talking about skiing. When she returned to the States, she got an internship in graphic design in San Francisco.

"I remembered this crazy moment and up to that point I had done everything that was expected of me—good grades, ski racing, college, best internship in the world. I assumed if you are following the expected path of your life you would be happy."

Realizing she could change her life, Dyer thought about the times in her life that truly made her happy. One particular memory was her parents taking her to see Warren Miller movies in Sun Valley.

"I started to compete in extreme skiing events," Dyer said. "I naturally ski better in powder."

During Dyer's senior year in college, she left the ski team and went on to extreme skiing competitions and won every time. She said it was the first time in her life that she was skiing for herself, and it was the best year of her life.

Since then, Dyer has hosted a television show for ABC, which toured the country filming action-sport athletes and giving her the chance to jump from a plane. She has been appearing in Warren Miller and Teton Gravity Research films for several seasons, as well as being involved in The Ski Tour, an annual ski race event based in Sun Valley. In addition, Dyer has appeared and been featured in several magazines.

"Following The Ski Tour around was such a great experience, and Sun Valley blew every other town out of the water," Dyer said. "I have never seen any town like it, and I have never been so proud to represent my town. There is so much heart here."

Dyer said her close friend Simon Dumont said he could not believe that people would hike so far up in the freezing cold to watch the halfpipe events last winter, and that it was the best halfpipe of The Ski Tour.

Dyer admits that the pressure of getting shots for ski films can be difficult, and it's hard to say no when you don't feel like it because the costs are so great to do ski movies.

"I had to learn the hard way and blew out my knee," Dyer said.

Dyer has blown out two knees, has a compressed vertebra in her back and has survived several avalanches. Learning to walk away is difficult, and extreme skiing is an egocentric sport, which is why Dyer firmly believes it's important to give something back. Dyer, along with several other women, has started a non-profit organization with a Web site called The site is committed to acknowledging, inspiring and supporting women to reach their potential.

"It's a site that profiles women taking risks and following different paths," Dyer said. "It's supposed to relate to all women. It's still in its beginning stages."

Dyer is extremely grateful for her opportunities growing up in Sun Valley and loves calling it home, even though she now lives in Jackson Hole.

"I got to ski because my dad was a coach. I got lots of scholarships because the community supported it, and the Sun Valley Ski Team raised lots of money," Dyer said. "Any chance I can back them up I will. We all love to be here, but can't afford it, and the resort needs to help."

Dyer said she thinks all the kids who grew up in Sun Valley want to come back to live in the valley, only financially they can't make it happen. She said it's the community that makes Sun Valley so special.

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